“The Fine Gael / Labour Coalition seems to be targeting large parts of the Midlands, West and North West for cutbacks in vital public services”, Fianna Fáil’s MEP candidate for Midlands-North West, Senator Thomas Byrne, has said.
Senator Byrne said the Coalition seemed to have deliberately targeted many vital areas of public services, such as rail, post offices, ambulances and broadband, causing concern and hardship to families, to older people and people who are ill.
“This pointless attack on our towns, villages and farming communities has to be fought against and stopped. Some Coalition representatives try to justify the cutbacks on the basis of EU policy or lack of funding from Europe. That is no excuse. If I am elected to the European Parliament, I will fight to defend these services – to get EU policies changed if they have to be changed, to get more EU funding if it is needed. Fianna Fáil wants to elect strong members of the Parliament who will vigorously represent communities across Ireland. The fight back starts on election day, the 23rd of May.
Supporting his position, Senator Byrne highlighted what he called ‘The Coalition’s Hit List of Cutbacks’:
Ø Rail – Minister Leo Varadkar has warned that rail services will be cut and Government subvention diverted away from Iarnród Éireann. Irish Rail has
said it is engaged in a “full analysis” of all routes. The Western Rail Corridor between Galway and Limerick could see a reduction in services.
Ø Post Offices – A Government review of the Post Office network threatens closure of more rural post offices. In Coalition speak, a ‘review’ usually
Ø Ambulances – The annual budget for the ambulance service in Ireland is €130m, far below the €240m spent in Scotland – a country similar to Ireland
in population, size and demographics. The Republic has only one third of the number of ambulances in the North. Waiting times are getting longer and
service targets are being cut.
Ø Pylons – While badly needed public services are being withdrawn in many rural communities, the Government seems intent on imposing ultra high
voltage power lines and pylons on them.
Ø Wind Farms – Minister Rabbitte claims to be reconsidering the export of wind-generated electricity to Britain but the Taoiseach seems intent on
opening up a back door to Prime Minister Cameron.
Ø Broadband – Internet usages is up by 75% and sales of smart phones and tablets are soaring, yet only 67% of Irish households had a broadband
connection – well below the EU average of 76%. The Government’s rural broadband scheme is failing to make any major improvements, with only 25% of
targeted homes connecting to a broadband service, creating a digital divide between urban and rural communities.
Ø Roads – Government funding for maintenance of regional and local roads has been cut dramatically in recent years. Only 40% of necessary maintenance work currently takes place.
Ø Garda Stations – Ninety-five Garda stations were closed in a single year, giving criminals a free rein in many areas. The recent spate of theft from GAA dressing rooms while players train is a good example of the outcome.
Ø Small rural schools – Minister Quinn is continuing his policy of cutting resources to small schools while increasing the threshold number of pupils required to keep them open. This means some communities are at risk of losing their local school.